SOESD / Newsletters / The Source / December 2004 Source: Steve Boyarsky / Space Camp
The Newsletter of Souther Oregon Education Service District"Just because I can't see the stars doesn't mean I can't reach for them"
Three PVI students from So. Oregon attend NASA Space Camp
by Cheri deWaard
Space Camp—the very words elicit a thrill! For visually impaired students in Oregon, the thrill has been a reality for several years.
For years, the Oregon Elks Association has supported young Oregonians who have a vision loss by funding a variety of programs for these students. One of those programs is the Elks Honor School. Visually impaired children throughout Oregon apply to the Honor School by writing an essay explaining why they would like to attend, obtain several letters of recommendation, and complete an application packet. Up to ten students throughout Oregon, and three southern Oregonians were honored. Selected students meet as a group with three Orientation and Mobility instructors from various vision programs across the state before flying to Alabama. All expenses for travel and Space Camp are picked up by the Oregon Elks.
The three students selected from the Southern Oregon Regional Program for Visually Impaired joined nine others and arrived in Alabama (via Georgia and its hurricanes) and after seven hours of travel, arrived at about 11 in the evening and went straight to bed to regain their strength.
The next day, the students were placed in different training groups. Carlina attended the Aviation Challenge. She reported, “It was really challenging and we had to do certain things like a simulated helicopter crash, a stealth mission and Escape and Evasion (E&E). Some of the activities were at night and some during the day. The reason I got to go is because I have Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is an eye condition that causes the retina to degenerate. I also have night blindness, which means I cannot see in the night. It has been a pleasure to go and I wish I can go again!”
Anastasia attended Space Challenge. “I went on two simulated missions and I got to choose who I wanted to be. I also went on the multi-axis trainer, a chair that spins in different directions very fast. I also went off the 5DF chair (five degrees of freedom chair). It is a chair that moves slowly back and forth and left to right. I also went on the I-6 chair where I got to jump as if there is no gravity. I had a great time!”
Curtis attended Advanced Space Academy. “The thing I liked the most was scuba diving. I’d never gone scuba diving before. It showed us how we’d be in almost zero gravity.”
The experience builds teamwork, enables students with visual impairments to interact with others from many different states and countries, and provides an intensive hands-on science/math curriculum for the week.
The PVI program is appreciative of the wonderful opportunity provided these students through the generosity of the Oregon Elks Honor School. Further information and pictures of the Space Campers is available at http://www.tsbvi.edu/space.